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Wessely, Marlis; Reese, Sven ORCID: 0000-0002-4605-9791; Schnabel-Feichter, Eva (1. April 2016): Aetiology and pathogenesis of cranial cruciate ligament rupture in cats by histological examination. In: Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery


Objectives The aim of this study was to examine histologically intact and ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments in cats, in order to evaluate whether degeneration is a prerequisite for rupture. Methods We performed a histological examination of 50 intact and 19 ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments in cadaver or client-owned cats, respectively, using light microscopy. Cats with stifle pathology were further divided into five age groups in order to investigate the relationship of changes in the ligament with lifespan. Cats with ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments were divided into two groups according to medical history, with presumed history of trauma or without any known history of trauma, in order to investigate the relationship of ligament rupture with a traumatic event. Data from 200 healthy cats were selected randomly and reviewed to make a statistical comparison of cats with and without cranial cruciate ligament rupture (reference group). Results On histological examination, the intact cranial cruciate ligaments showed basic parallel arrangement of the collagen fibres, with no relation to age. While cats of a more advanced age showed fibrocartilage in the middle of the cranial cruciate ligament, a likely physiological reaction to compression forces over the lifespan, degenerative changes within the fibrocartilage were absent in all cases, regardless of age or rupture status. Cats suffering from cranial cruciate ligament rupture without history of trauma were significantly older than cats in the reference group. Conclusions and relevance This study showed that differentiation of fibrocartilage in the middle of the cranial cruciate ligament is likely a physiological reaction to compressive forces and not a degenerative change associated with greater risk of rupture in advanced age. This finding in cats is distinctive from the known decrease in differentiation of fibrocartilage in dogs with cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Furthermore, the histological examination of cats revealed no other signs of degeneration in the cranial cruciate ligaments. Thus, degeneration is likely not an aetiological factor of cranial cruciate ligament rupture in cats.